THE QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE
by Dr. Maurice Bucaille
Edited by Dr. A. A. B. Philips
Table of Contents
THE QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE Table of Contents EDITOR’S FOREWORD INTRODUCTION RELIGION AND SCIENCE The Qur’an And Science AUTHENTICITY OF QUR’AN CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE ASTRONOMY The Sun and Moon. Stars and Planets Orbits
The Day and Night The Solar Apex Expansion of the Universe Conquest of Space GEOLOGY Water Cycle Mountains BIOLOGY Botany Physiology EMBRYOLOGY Fertilization Implantation Embryo BIBLE, QUR’AN AND SCIENCE Creation Age of the Earth The Flood The Pharaoh
This booklet by Dr. Maurice Bucaille has been in circulation for the past nineteen years and has been a very effective tool in presenting Islam to non-Muslims as
by the presence in the Qur’an of highly accurate reflections on natural phenomena. I spoke to members of a learned medical society on subjects whose basic concepts they all knew well. It is my hope that these slight improvements will make this excellent work even more effective in presenting the final revelation of God to mankind. May. 1976. I took the liberty of including explanatory portions from his book where more detail was necessary. zoologists. My reason for presenting this lecture was because it is impossible to explain how a text produced in the seventh century could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times. Dr. A few footnotes were also added for clarity and a hadeeth which the author mentioned was replaced due to its inauthenticity. just as forcibly as medical doctors. There were also some corrections made to the historical material on the compilation of the Qur’an. For the first time. which needed explanation. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips Director/Islamic Information Center Dubai U. the Qur’an and Science. but I could. There were also passing references made by the author to material in his book.A. In this reprint. an unusual lecture was given at the French Academy of Medicine. I decided to improve its presentation by simplifying the language and editing the text from an oral format to a pamphlet format. geologists and specialists in the history of the earth would all have been struck. 1995
On the 9th of November. I presented the study based on the existence of certain statements concerning physiology and reproduction in the Qur’an. These reflections are particularly astonishing when we consider the history of science.E. just as easily.well as introducing Muslims to aspects of the scientific miracle of the Qur’an. Its title was “Physiological and Embryological data in the Qur’an”. It is based on a transcription of a lecture given by Dr. Astronomers. and can only lead us to the conclusion that they are a challenge to human explanation. have pointed out statements of a scientific nature contained in the Qur’an and other subjects to specialists from other disciplines. Bucaille in French.
. The Bible.
no better illustration of the close links between Islam and science than the Prophet Muhammad’s often-quoted statements: “Seeking knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim. have highlighted the supernatural nature of revelation and the authenticity of the religion which it taught. This is why the idea of a comprehensive study of the problem appealed to me. The Bible. in an objective examination of the Islamic scripture. therefore. scientific truth has dealt a deathblow to religious belief. Scientific opinions comparable to those in the Qur’an are the result of modern knowledge.” These statements and many others are veritable invitations to humanity to enrich their knowledge from all sources. about the metaphysical lessons to be derived from some of today’s knowledge. In the commentaries to translations of the Qur’an that have appeared in European languages. perhaps. it is precisely the discoveries of science that. In addition to this. English and Arabic editions have since been published. I have only been able to find scattered and vague references to them. Nor is it a surprise to learn that certain scientific data are used for the better understanding of the Qur’anic text.
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
There is. The first French edition appeared in May 1976. Nor do commentators writing in Arabic provide a complete study of the aspects of the Qur’an that deal with scientific matters. Allah will make his path to paradise easy. a research project was developed from the comparison of certain passages in the Holy Scriptures of each monotheistic religion with modern scientific knowledge. The project resulted in the publication of a book entitled. Thus. we indeed
.” “whoever follows a path seeking knowl edge. in spite of what many people may say or think. to learn that in Islam religion and science have always been considered as twin sisters and that today. the Qur'an and Science. When all is said and done. (for example our evolving knowledge of the smallest components of matter or the questions surrounding the origin of life within inanimate matter). in an unbiased or unprejudiced way. for many people. scientific knowledge seems. in a century where. at a time when science has taken such great strides. to be highly conducive to reflection on the existence of God. Once we begin to ask ourselves. It comes as no surprise. they still continue to be associated. What is more.There is no human work in existence that contains statements as far beyond the level of knowledge of its time as the Qur’an. a comparative study of similar data contained in the Bible (Old Testament and Gospels) seemed desirable.” “wisdom is the lost property of the believer.
one is nowadays required to have an absolutely encyclopedic knowledge embracing many scientific disciplines. It is only today that numerous verses of the Qur’an dealing with natural phenomena have become comprehensible. I only intend to deal with comparisons between statements in the Qur’an and scientific knowledge which are not likely to
. For example. it is still not easy for the average scientist to understand everything he reads in the Qur’an on such subjects. Then from this point it is claimed that living organisms evolved. that living matter was self-created from simple chemical elements due to chance circumstances. To me. A reading of old commentaries on the Qur’an. it becomes clear that the likelihood of it being the result of chance lessens quite considerably. however knowledgeable their authors may have been in their day. bears solemn witness to a total inability to grasp the depth of meaning in such verses. help to explain a phenomenon or a series of phenomena. that I use the word science to mean knowledge which has been soundly established.
The Qur’an And Science For many centuries. humankind was unable to study certain data contained in the verses of the Qur’an because they did not possess sufficient scientific means. in the 20th century. it would seem that the scientific advancements made in understandithe fantastic complexity of higher beings provides stronger arguments in favor of the opposite theory: that the existence of an extraordinarily methodical organization presiding over the remarkable arrangement of the phenomena of life necessitates the existence of a Creator. I should like to stress. When we think about the remarkable organization presiding over the birth and maintenance of life. This means that to understand all such verses of the Qur’an. It does not include the theories which. As our knowledge of science in the various fields expands. encourages this kind of general reflection but also contains infinitely more precise data which are directly related to facts discovered by modern science. without having recourse to specialized research. These n ewer explanations have become more plausible thanks to scientific progress. only to be abandoned later on in favor of other explanations.discover many reasons for thinking about God. with its compartmentalization of ever-increasing knowledge. leading to the remarkably complex being called man. I could even go so far as to say that. for a time. In many parts of the Book. It is precisely this data which exercise a magnetic attraction for today’s scientists. the idea enthusiastically expressed by the recent French winner of the Nobel prize for medicine. certain concepts must seem increasingly unacceptable. the Qur’an.
led me to see the Qur’an as the divinely-revealed text it really is. only by carefully analyzing all the symptoms can one arrive at an accurate diagnosis. during the time it was revealed. An example of this is the statement in the Qur’an that life has an aquatic origin ( “And I created every living thing out of water” Qur’an.be subject to further discussion. Scientific statements such as these are only one specific aspect of the Islamic revelation which the Bible does not share. Wherever I introduce scientific facts which are not yet 100% established. however. It is known that the text of the Qur’an was both recited from memory.
AUTHENTICITY OF QUR’AN
Before getting to the essence of the subject. In other words. by the time I had finished my study. I shall refer to these by pointing out that all the evidence available today leads scientists to regard them as being highly probable. It was mainly the facts which. This is how I see it today. there is a very important point which must be considered: the authenticity of the Qur’anic text. I will make it quite clear. we can find allusions to data connected with scientific knowledge is surely another of God’s gifts whose value must shine out in an age where scientifically based atheism seeks to gain control of society at the expense of the belief in God. In the Qur’an. There are also some very rare examples of statements in the Qur’an which have not. Here we must note a highly important point. The present text of the Qur’an benefited in its original preparation from the advantage of having its authenticity cross-checked by the text recited from memory as well as the unofficial written
. I believe I have succeeded in approaching the study of the Qur’an with the same objectivity that a doctor has when opening a file on a patient. but simply a desire to search for the truth. But the Qur’an does not need unusual characteristics like this to make its supernatural nature felt. by the Prophet and the believers who surrounded him. These scientific considerations should not. The fact that. An official copy was made within one year after the Prophet’s death at the instruction of Caliph Abu Bakr. whenever humans are invited to reflect upon the wonders of creation and the numerous natural phenomena. in these reflections. This process lasted for roughly twenty-three years during which many unofficial copies were made. Throughout my research I have constantly tried to remain totally objective. as yet. they can easily see that the obvious intention is to stress Divine Omnipotence. make us forget that the Qur’an remains a religious book par excellence and that it cannot be expected to have a scientific purpose per se. I must admit that it was certainly not faith in Islam that first guided my steps. been confirmed by modern science. and written down by designated scribes among his followers. 21:30 ).
All unofficial copies existing at that time were destroyed and all future copies were made from the official seven copies. Who taught man what he did not know.texts. which happen to constitute the first revelation made to the Prophet (S). I shall also mention another fact of great importance. these obscure passages scattered throughout the text of the Qur’an. I have quoted passages from the Qur’an which came from the period prior to the Hijrah (the Prophet’s emigration from Makkah to Madeenah in the year 622) and which allude to the writing of the Qur’an before the Prophet’s departure from Makkah. moreover. these statements were totally incomprehensible. to use Professor Hamidullah’s expression. Read! Your Lord is the most Noble. express this quite clearly: “Read: In the name of your Lord who created. the Qur’an and Science. 96:1-5 These are surely words in “praise of the pen as a means of human knowledge”. Who taught by the pen. Moreover. In some cases. It is impossible to imagine that. The Bible. The presence of these statements spread throughout the
. many witnesses to the immediate transcription of the Qur’anic revelation. Within the first two years of Caliph ‘Uthman’s rule. but of which men in former times were only able to grasp the apparent meaning. The memorized text was of paramount importance at a time when not everyone could read and write. The first five verses of chapter al-‘Alaq. seven official copies were reproduced from the official text and distributed throughout a large area of the world which had already come under Islamic rule. Change in any text would have prevented us from establishing their total conformity with modern knowledge. Let us not forget that today we also have a number of manuscripts of the first written versions of the Qur’an which were from a time period very close to the time of revelation. We shall examine statements in the Qur’an which today appear to merely record scientific truth.” Qur’an. In my book. the need for a written record was included in the text of the Qur’an itself. The slightest alteration to the text would have automatically destroyed the remarkable coherence which is characteristic to them. Who created man from a clinging entity. Then came the Caliphate of ‘Uthman (which lasted from the twelfth to the twentyfourth year following Muhammad’s death). were all able to escape human manipulation. There were. if there were any alterations to the texts. but everybody could memorize. Professor Jacques Berque has told me of the great importance he attaches to it in comparison with the long gap separating the writing down of the JudeoChristian revelation from the facts and events which it relates.
To stress only the similarities. This idea contradicts the parallels which are often wrongly drawn by Western authors to emphasize the resemblance between the two texts.
. plus an extra day for rest on God’s Sabbath. and Human Reproduction in particular. The reason that these topics were chosen is that knowledge acquired today can be used in the interpretation of the texts. the Flood and the Exodus. I thought it useful to make a comparison between Qur’anic and Biblical narrations on the same topics from the point of view of modern knowledge. (one translation of which is ‘days’).
CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE
From an examination of creation as described in the Qur’an. Humans. perhaps. the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms. collecting them chapter by chapter. Certainly it is possible to compare the six days of creation as described in the Bible. is to distort reality. It would seem to me. The Qur’an is a revelation made known to humans in the course of twenty-three years. Next. It spanned two periods of almost equal length on either side of the Hijrah. as meaning ‘long periods’ or ‘ages’ rather than periods of twenty-four hours. such as the one we have made. In view of this. it must be pointed out that modern commentators stress the interpretation of the Arabic word ayyaam. “Your Lord is God who created the heavens and the earth in six days. with this verse from chapter al-A‘raaf.” Qur’an. Furthermore. When talking about creation. an extremely important general concept emerges: The Qur’anic narration is quite different from the Biblical narration. a reason for this. so I decided present them according to my own personal one. 7:54 However. we had to regroup the verses according to subject matter. the Earth. while silently ignoring the obvious dissimilarities. There is. In a study. it was natural for reflections having a scientific aspect to be scattered throughout the Book. How should they be classified? I could not find any indications in the Qur’an suggesting any particular classification. I divided up verses under the following general headings: Astronomy. there is a strong tendency in the West to claim that Muhammad copied the general outlines mentioned in the Qur’an from the Bible. Here it is possible to compare the verses referring to this topic with the general ideas prevalent today on the formation of the Universe.Qur’an looks (to the impartial observer ) like an obvious hallmark of its authenticity. that the first subject to deal with is Creation. This has been done in the cases of Creation.
41:11 “Do the disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were joined together. as seen in chapter al-Furqaan: “God is the one who created the heavens. As well as descriptions of the elements which. the separation process resulted in the formation of multiple worlds. 20:4 In fact. the notion derived from the Qur’an is one of a parallelism in the celestial and terrestrial evolutions. then I split them apart?” Qur’an. the sun. although at first were fused together ( ratq ). in Genesis 1:9-19 the creation of the earth (on the 3rd day) is placed before that of the heavens (on the 4th day). of
. It refers both to the heavens before the earth and the earth before the heavens. a concept which appears dozens of times in the Qur’an. 21:30 According to modern science.. when it talks of creation in general. as in this verse of chapter Taa Haa: “(God) who created the earth and heavens above. It is a well known fact that our planet came from its own star. For example. followed by the separation of the elements which resulted in the formation of galaxies and then stars from which the planets were born. These ideas are expressed in chapters Fussilat and al-Anbiyaa: “God then rose turning towards the heaven when it was smoke” Qur’an. how could anyone claim that Muhammad." Qur’an.” Qur’an. This brief survey of Qur’anic references to creation clearly shows us how modern scientific data and statements in the Qur’an consistently agree on a large number of points. al-Faatihah:( “Praise be to God. drew his inspiration from the Bible.” Qur’an. the supposed author of the Qur’an. In contrast. For example. the Lord of the Worlds. 25:59 It would seem that this intermediary creation corresponds to the modern discovery of bridges of matter which are present outside organized astronomical systems. the earth and what is between them. These Qur’anic references are a11 in perfect agreement with modern ideas on the existence of primary nebula (galactic dust). In such circumstances. in contrast to the narration contained in the Bible. look at the first chapter of the Qur’an. the Qur’an does not lay down a sequence for creation of the earth and heavens. Reference is also made in the Qur’an to an intermediary creation between the heavens and the earth. the successive phases of creation mentioned in the Biblical text are totally unacceptable. 1:1 ).. Such a claim would mean that.What appears to be of fundamental importance to me is that. they subsequently became separated (fatq). There are also basic pieces of information concerning the existence of an initial gaseous mass ( dukhaan ) which are unique to the Qur’an.
kawkab. the planets. and lamp (siraaj) for the sun. and made in them the moon a light and the sun a lamp?" Qur’an. it is common for someone to reply that there is nothing unusual in this since the Arabs made important discoveries in the field of astronomy long before the Europeans. Stars and Planets The word ‘star’ (najm) in the Qur’an ( 86:3 ) is accompanied by the adjective thaaqib which indicates that it burns and consumes itself as it pierces through the shadows of the night. the Qur’an distinguishes between them by the use of different terms: light (noor) for the moon. Yet the correct concept was reached by scientists many centuries after his death. a different word. In the Qur’an. Secondly. In the first place.
The Sun and Moon. 37:6 Orbits
Whenever I describe to Westerners the details the Qur’an contains on certain points of astronomy. this is a mistaken idea resulting from an ignorance of history. It was much later discovered that stars are heavenly bodies producing their own light like the sun. the scientific knowledge prevalent at the highpoint of Islamic civilization would have made it impossible for any human being to have written statements on the heavens comparable to those in the Qur’an. he corrected the Biblical text to arrive at the correct concept concerning the formation of the Universe. is used to refer to the planets which are celestial bodies that reflect light and do not produce their own light like the sun. Whereas the Bible talks of the sun and the moon as two lights differing only in size. "Did you see how Allah created seven heavens. The material on this subject is so vast that I can only provide a brief outline of it here. “We have adorned the lowest heaven with ornaments.his own accord. 78:12-13 The moon is an inert body which reflects light.” Qur’an. But. science developed in the Arab World at a considerable time after the Qur’anic revelation had occurred. whereas the sun is a celestial body in a state of permanent combustion producing both light and heat. one above the other.
21:33 The Arabic word which expresses this movement is the verb yasbahoon which implies the idea of motion produced by a moving body. They are well known for the moon. or the action of swimming in water. whether it is the movement of one’s legs running on the ground. “He coils the night upon the day and the day upon the night. The Qur'an and Science.” Qur’an. This is a totally valid comparison. I have given the precise scientific data corresponding to the motion of celestial bodies. be rather commonplace were it not for the fact that it is expressed in terms that are today highly appropriate. Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion.’ In my book. but less widely known for the sun. the astronomical data necessary to make this comparison were unknown. one is forced to translate it. But is this not what the Qur’an describes in terms which have only become comprehensible in modern times. as well as the interplay of gravitational forces produced by their masses and the speed of their movements. the laws governing the celestial systems are well known. 36:38
. the day.” Qur’an. in itself.Today. The Qur’an uses the verb kawwara in chapter az-Zumar to describe the way the night ‘winds’ or ‘coils’ itself around the day and the day around the night. yet at the time the Qur’an was revealed. as ‘to travel with its own motion. that the dark half of the globe appeared to wind itself around the light and the light half appeared to wind itself around the dark. In the case of a celestial body. The Bible. 39:5 The original meaning of the verb kis to coil a turban around the head.
The Day and Night The Qur’anic description of the sequence of day and night would. In chapter al-Ambiyaa we find: “(God is) the one who created the night. according to its original meaning.” Qur’an. the All Knowing. Galaxies are balanced by the position of stars and planets in well-defined orbits. the sun and the moon. It is not until man landed on the moon and observed the earth spinning on its axis. The Solar Apex The notion of a settled place for the sun is vividly described in chapter Yaa Seen of the Qur’an: "The sun runs its coarse to a settled place That is the decree of the Almighty.
then penetrate them! You will not penetrate them except with authority. “I built the heaven with power and it is I. the expansion of the Universe. if you can penetrate the regions of the heavens and the earth. not only with the physical phenomena observed here on earth. Astronomers have even give it a name. The regular movement of the galactic light towards the red section of the spectrum is explained by the distancing of one galaxy from another.” Qur’an. but also with details concerning the living organisms that inhabit it.55:33 Authority to travel in space can only come from the Creator of the laws which govern movement and space.
Let us now return to earth to discover some of the many amazing statements contained in Qur’anic reflections about our own planet.” Qur’an. Thus.“Settled place” is the translation of the word mustaqarr which indicates an exact appointed place and time.
. the solar apex. The prediction of this event surely springs to mind when we read the chapter ar-Rahmaan in the Qur’an: “O assembly of Jinns and men. Conquest of Space Among the achievements of modern science is the “conquest” of space which has resulted in mans journey to the moon. the size of the universe appears to be progressively increasing. The whole of this Qur’anic chapter invites humankind to recognize God’s beneficence.
Expansion of the Universe Chapter ath-Thaariyaat of the Qur’an also seems to allude to one of the most imposing discoveries of modern science.51:47 The expansion of the universe was first suggested by the general theory of relativity and is supported by the calculations of astrophysics. They deal. Modern astronomy confirms that the solar system is indeed moving in space at a rate of 12 miles per second towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules ( alpha lyrae ) whose exact location has been precisely calculated. who am expanding it.
.In the seventeenth century. then He caused crops of different colors to grow. Consequently. If one compares the facts of modern hydrology with the data found in numerous verses of the Qur’an on this subject.39:21 Such notions seem quite natural to us today.As in the case of everything we have discussed so far. and have paid special attention to those that deal with the water cycle in nature. This is a topic which is well known today. At this point. Let us examine. I have quoted a large number of them in my book. but we should not forget that. one cannot fail to notice the remarkable degree of agreement between the two. It was not until the sixteenth century. for example. we know that it is the infiltration of rain water into the ground that is responsible for this. that we gained the first coherent description of the water cycle. great thinkers such as Descartes still believed in this myth. we must ask ourselves the following question: How could an uneducated man in the middle of the desert accurately tackle so many and such varied subjects at a time when mythology and superstition reigned supreme? How could he so skillfully avoid every belief that was proven to be totally inaccurate many centuries later? Water Cycle The verses dealing with the earthly systems are a case in point. they appear to be based more on myth and philosophical speculation than on observed fact. they were not prevalent. They then returned to the oceans via the great abyss. But if we consider the ideas prevalent at that time.. not so long ago. The Qur’an and Science. were thrust towards the interior of the continents. we shall see that the Qur’an also expresses concepts in the field of geology that were way ahead of those current at the time of its revelation. The Bible. the following verse in chapter az-Zumar: “Have you not seen that Allah sent rain down from the sky and caused it to penetrate the ground and come forth as springs. Today. under the effect of winds.. the verses in the Qur’an that refer to the water cycle seem to express ideas that are now totally self-evident. with Bernard Palissy. people believed that the waters of the oceans. since Plato’s time was called the Tartarus . even though useful practical knowledge on soil irrigation was current at that period. Even in the nineteenth century there were still those who believed in Aristotle’s theory that water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Prior to this. which.” Qur’an.
We should really devote much more time to this subject.
More than anything else. Here. are the deep foundations of geological folds. but. a part of which has already been quoted:
. This is the case of a verse in chapter al-Ambiyaa. It has also been discovered that the stability of mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding. It is taken from chapter an-Naba’: “Have We not made the earth an expanse and the mountains stakes?” Qur’an. Numerous translations and commentaries on the Qur’an have been made by learned men who had no access to modern scientific knowledge. I was struck by statements in the Qur’an dealing with living things. which are driven into the ground like those used to anchor a tent. both in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. especially with regard to reproduction. modern science has recently discovered the phenomenon of folding which formed the mountain ranges. Let us now compare modern ideas with one verse among many in the Qur’an that deals with this subject. I can only give a few examples. while the deeper layers are hot and fluid. and thus inhospitable to any form of life. to say the least. The earth’s crust is like a solid shell. 78:6-7 Stakes ( awtaad ). The process of mountain formation by folding drove the earth’s crust down into the lower layers and provided foundations for the mountains. due to the limited scope of this presentation. I must once again stress the fact that it is only in modern times that scientific progress has made the hidden meaning of some Qur’anic verses comprehensible to us. There are also other verses whose obvious meanings are easily understood. as in the case of all the other topics presented.In geology. the objective observer cannot fail to notice the absence of any contradiction to modern knowledge. but which conceal scientific meanings which are startling. It is for this reason that scientists find some of their interpretations unacceptable.
One thousand years before the discovery of the blood circulatory system.. Will they still not believe?” Qur’an. Blood in the circulatory system then transports the nutrients to all the organs of the body. then I clove them asunder and I made every living thing out of water. In the chapter ar-Ra‘d we read the following: “.” Qur’an. in conformity with scientific facts. among which are the milk-producing mammary glands. we may read the following in the chapter Taa Haa: “(God is the One who) sent down rain from the sky and with it brought forth a variety of plants in pairs.” Qur’an. This biological process must be basically understood. To understand this verse. if we are to understand a verse in the Qur’an which has for many centuries given rise to commentaries that were totally incomprehensible.
Botany Progress in botany at the time of Muhammad (S) was not advanced enough in any country for scientists to know that plants have both male and female parts.“Do the unbelievers not realize that the heavens and the earth were joined together. Today it is not difficult to see why! This verse is taken from the chapter an-Nahl:
.. 21:30 This is a dramatic affirmation of the modern idea that the origin of life is aquatic. it must first be known that chemical reactions occur between food and enzymes in the mouth. there is one verse which appears extremely significant to me. 20:53 Today we know that fruit comes from plants that have sexual characteristics even when they come from unfertilized flowers. the stomach and the intestines releasing nutrients in molecular form which are then absorbed into the circulatory system through countless microscopic projections of the intestinal wall called villi. and roughly thirteen centuries before it was determined that the internal organs were nourished by the process of digestive . Nevertheless. and of all fruits (God) placed (on the earth) two pairs. like bananas. a verse in the Qur’an described the source of the constituents of milk. 13:3 Physiology In the field of physiology.
There are a multitude of statements in the Qur’an on the subject of human reproduction which constitute a challenge to the embryologist seeking a human explanation for them. It was impossible for a human being living in the early seventh century to have accurately expressed such ideas. “This book provides us with all the essential information on the subject. brought up in Saudi Arabia. this pamphlet would become a book. commenting on a reference to human reproduction as described in the Qur’an. who have recognized the amazing similarity between the verses of the Qur’an dealing with reproduction and modern scientific knowledge. Today. as the subject merits. milk pure and pleasant for those who drink it. there are many Muslims. It was only after the birth of the basic sciences which contributed to our knowledge of biology and the invention of the microscope.“Verily. The initial event which sets the whole process in motion is the conjunction of the contents of the intestine and blood at the level of the intestinal wall itself. The Qur’an and Science are sufficient for the person who does not speak Arabic nor know much about embryology to be able to understand the meaning of such verses in the light of modern science in more depth. When I was at school. that humans were able to understand the depth of those Qur’anic statements. He pointed to the Qur’an and said. I shall always remember the comment of an eighteen-year-old Muslim. coming from a conjunction between the digested contents ( of the intestines ) and the blood. possessing a thorough knowledge of the Qur’an and natural sciences. my teachers used the Qur’an to explain how children were born. There is nothing to indicate that people in the Middle-East and Arabia knew anything more about this subject than people living in Europe or anywhere else. The detailed linguistic and scientific explanations I have given in The Bible.
. 16:66 The constituents of milk are secreted by the mammary glands which are nourished by the product of food digestion brought to them by the bloodstream.” Qur’an. Your books on sexeducation are a bit late on the scene!” If I were to spend as long on all the details of reproduction contained in the Qur’an. in cattle there is a lesson for yon. I give you drink from their insides. This very precise concept is the result of the discoveries made in the chemistry and physiology of the digestive system over one thousand years after the time of Prophet Muhammad (S).
I created humankind from a small quantity of mingled fluids.
Fertilization Let us now isolate. Not to mention the total absence of any reference in the Qur’an to the mistaken ideas that were prevalent around the world at the time. leaves us amazed at the degree of agreement between the Qur’an’s statements and modern scientific knowledge. out of over 50 million ejaculated by a man during sexual intercourse will actually penetrate the ovule. spermatozoon. In chapter al-Insaan the Qur’an states: “Verily. The verse correctly implies that fertilization is performed by only a very small volume of liquid. it also informs us that human progeny will be formed from something extracted from this liquid. only one single cell. On the other hand. When the Qur’an talks of a fertilizing fluid composed of different components. This is the meaning of the following verse in chapter as-Sajdah: “Then He made [ man’s ] offspring from the essence of a despised fluid. to trickle’ and is used to describe what remains in the bottom of a bucket which has been emptied.” Qur’an. the best part of a thing’. Under normal conditions. it refers to part of a whole. from all these verses. In whatever way it is translated. mingled fluids ( amshaaj ) has been understood by early commentators to refer to the mixture of male and female discharges. 76:2 The Arabic word nutfah has been translated as "small quantity”. precise ideas concerning the complexity of the semen and the fact that an infinitely small quantity is required to ensure fertilization.
.It is especially in the field of embryology that a comparison between the beliefs present at the time of the Qur’an’s revelation and modern scientific data.” Qur’an. Modern authors have corrected this view and note that the sperm is made up of various components. 32:8 The Arabic word translated by the term ‘essence’ is sulaalah which means ‘something extracted. It comes from the verb meaning ‘to dribble.
then into a lump of flesh in proportion and out of proportion.” Qur’an. which. and (God) gave you ears.” Qur’an. which reads as follows: “I fashioned (humans) a clinging entity. draw nourishment from the wall of the uterus and make the egg literally cling to the womb. because the simple words referring to it correspond exactly to fundamental stages in its growth. It is a mistake to speak of a ‘blood clot’ here. The embryo passes through a stage where some parts are in proportion and others out of proportion with what is later to become the individual. 22:5. It is known that the bones develop inside this mass and that they are then covered with muscle. like roots in the soil. eyes and hearts. This is what we read in a verse from the chapter al-Mu’minoon: “I fashioned t he clinging entity into a chewed lump of flesh and I fashioned the chewed flesh into bones and I clothed the bones with intact flesh. 23:14 The term ‘chewed flesh’ (mudghah) corresponds exactly to the appearance of the embryo at a certain stage in its development.” Qur’an. Implantation is a result of the development of villosities.Once the egg has been fertilized in the fallopian tube.. It is a derivative meaning which is not as appropriate in this context. which is also the title of the chapter in which one of the verses appears: “God fashioned humans from a clinging entity. The process of implantation is appropriately described in several verses by the word ‘alaq.
Embryo The evolution of the embryo inside the maternal uterus is only briefly described. 32:9
. but the description is accurate. which is the term Professor Hamidullah uses in his translation. This is the obvious meaning of a verse in the chapter al-Hajj. This is the meaning of the term ‘intact flesh’ (lahm)..” Qur’an. we have a reference to the appearance of the senses and internal organs in the chapter as-Sajdah: “. This process is called the ‘implantation of the egg’. it descends to lodge itself inside the uterus. Next. 96:2 I do not think there is any reasonable translation of the word ‘alaq other than to use it in its original sense.
the first book of the Pentateuch or Torah. none of the mistaken ideas of the time have crept into the Qur’an. on the other hand. The narration seems to have been conceived as the theme of a sermon designed to exhort people to observe the Sabbath. Matthew goes back as far as Abraham. The most fundamental stage in the history of embryology came in 1651 with Harvey’s statement that “all life initially comes from an egg”.
BIBLE.Bonnet. and pointed out that the Biblical narration contained statements that were scientifically unacceptable. This is hardly surprising if we are aware that the narration of the creation contained in the Bible was the work of priests living in the sixth century BC. The narration was constructed with a definite end in view. I stressed the perfect agreement between modern knowledge and verses in the Qur’an. Creation We have already come across some of the contradictions between scripture and science regarding the creation of the universe. such Gospel authors as Matthew and Luke have reproduced them. supported the theory of ‘the ovaries of Eve’. At that time. The Bible also contains a much shorter and older narration of Creation. and as Father de Vaux (a former head of the Biblical School of Jerusalem) has noted. Moses is supposed to have been its author.Nothing here contradicts today’s data and. more or less wordfor-word. the great naturalist. Throughout the Middle Ages there were a variety of beliefs about human development based on myths and speculations which continued for several centuries after the period. furthermore. but the text we have today has undergone many changes. in their genealogies of Jesus.
. hence the term ‘sacerdotal’ ( priestly ) narration is officially used to refer to it. the socalled ‘Yahvist’ version. this end was essentially legalist in character. and which nobody takes very seriously. people were still arguing about the respective roles of the egg and spermatozoon. was one of those in favor of the egg theory. When dealing with that topic. was-supposed to have had inside her the seeds of all human beings packed together one inside the other. Buffon. the mother of the human race. which approaches the subject from a completely different angle. They are both taken from Genesis. Nevertheless. The sacerdotal narration of Genesis is famous for its whimsical genealogies. when science had benefited greatly from the invention of the microscope. QUR’AN AND SCIENCE
We have now come to the last subject I would like to present in this short pamphlet: it is the comparison between modern knowledge and passages in the Qur’an that are also referred to in the Bible. that go back to Adam. which stated that Eve.
this would imply a universal cataclysm around the twenty-first or twenty-second century BC This story would be untenable. is completely free of dates of this kind. in view of presently available historical data. if not more.
Age of the Earth As for the Biblical genealogies which form the basis of the Jewish calendar and assert that today the world is 5738 years old. to the one preceding the Middle Kingdom in Egypt. According to what we know of Abraham. when we know that this period corresponds.and Luke to Adam. nor is the creation of light on the first day before the creation of the stars which produce this light. we noted how perfectly the Qur’an agrees with modern ideas on the formation of the Universe. these are hardly admissible either. in the twenty-first or twenty-second century BC. the Biblical narration is a fusion of two descriptions in which events are related differently. the existence of an evening and a morning before the creation of the earth. may be estimated in tens of thousands of years. the creation of the earth on the third day before that of the sun on the fourth. It is absolutely essential. the Biblical narration of primordial waters is hardly. These writings are scientifically unacceptable. The Bible speaks of a universal flood and places it roughly 300 years before Abraham. In actual fact. None of the preceding statements is acceptable according
. the appearance of beasts of the earth on the sixth day after the appearance of the birds of the air on the fifth day. On the other hand. to note that the Qur’an does not contain any such indications as to the age of the world. which most definitely contradicts what modern science has firmly established. on the other hand. at this time. humanity was totally wiped out. for example. descriptions of the deluge. all civilization was wiped off the face of the earth by a universal cataclysm. as we know him today. and that these are specific to the Biblical text. All these statements are the result of beliefs prevalent at the time this text was written and do not have any other meaning. Earlier on. and the appearance of human beings on earth. The Qur’an. Our solar system may well be four and a quarter billion years old. at roughly the date of the first Intermediary period before the eleventh dynasty? It is historically unacceptable to maintain that. because they set a date for the age of the world and the time humans appeared on Earth. therefore.
The Flood There is a second highly significant subject of comparison between the Bible and the Qur’an. although the former came first. How can we accept the idea that.
There are absolutely no historical or archaeological objections to the narration in the Qur’an. we can measure the enormous gap separating the Bible from the Qur’an. They were punished for their sins. From this point of view.” Qur’an. are therefore of considerable historical value in the story of Moses. The fact that we possess the mummy of this pharaoh is one of paramount importance. the comparison between the narration in the Qur’an and the data provided by modern knowledge does not give rise to the slightest objection from a scientific point of view. concerning the historical time-frame occupied by the Exodus in the history of the pharaohs. has. 10:92 A medical examination of this mummy. Moses was probably born during the reign of Ramesses II. and especially the Exodus from Egypt of the Hebrews. shown that the body could not have stayed in the water for long. Ramesses II’s successor. notes that the body of the pharaoh would be saved from the waters: “Today I will save your dead body so that you may be a sign for those who come after you. I have concluded that the most likely is the theory which makes Merneptah. I have noted the points where the Biblical and Qur’anic narrations agree and disagree. the narration contained in the Qur’an deals with a cataclysm that is limited to Noah’s people. which is extremely significant. The Qur’an. the pharaoh of the Exodus.to modern knowledge. is the story of Moses. A medical study of the mummy of Merneptah has yielded further useful information on the possible causes of this pharaoh’s death. The comparison of the data contained in the Scriptures with archeological evidence strongly supports this hypothesis. in chapter Yoonus. as were other ungodly peoples. and I have found points where the two texts complement each other in a very useful way. but does not give any details as to what subsequently became of his corpse. Biblical data. because it does not show signs of deterioration due to prolonged submersion. In contrast to the Bible. The Bible records that pharaoh was engulfed in the sea. The Qur’an does not fix the cataclysm in time.
The Pharaoh A third point of comparison. I am pleased to be able to say that the Biblical narration contributes weighty evidence leading us to situate Moses in the history of the pharaohs. Here I can only give a highly compressed account of a study on this subject that appears in my book. Here again. Among the many hypotheses.
leads us to recognize the agreement between the two. appear to represent a genuine challenge to human explanation leaving only one alternative: the Qur’an is undoubtedly a revelation from God.
. has a history which is radically different. There are parts of the Bible which have an undoubted historical value. it was learnt by heart and written down during Muhammad’s own lifetime.Such points of agreement are characteristic of the Qur’anic revelation. It is thanks to this fact that the Qur’an does not pose any problem of authenticity. I have shown that in my book. But. where I discuss passages which enable us to locate Moses in time. The Qur’anic revelation. The part played by men in the actual composition of the texts of the Bible is quite considerable. from the moment it was first commto humans. Such considerations are part of what gives the Qur’anic revelation its unique place among religious and non-religious texts. The main causes which brought about such differences as arise from the comparison between the Holy Scriptures and modern knowledge is known to modern scholars. As we have already seen. It makes us deem it quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad’s time to have been the author of such statements. in the light of modern knowledge. The Bible. The Qur’an and Science. Such facts as I have had the pleasure of exposing to you here. are we throwing the Judeo-Christian revelation into discredit and depriving it of all its intrinsic value by stressing the faults as seen from a scientific point of view? I think not because the criticism is not aimed at the text as a whole. The Old Testament constitutes a collection of literary works produced in the course of roughly nine centuries and which has undergone many alterations. A totally objective examination of the Qur’an. as has already been noted on repeated occasions throughout this presentation. and forces the impartial scientist to admit his inability to provide an explanation based solely upon materialistic reasoning. on the other hand. on account of the state of knowledge in his day. but only at certain passages.